Top Nigeria’s stars, Aruna Quadri, shock exit in the third round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Male’s single table tennis event has dampened the morale of Team Nigeria for successful outing at the Games.
The table tennis sensation, who is the captain of Team Nigeria’s contingent to Tokyo 2020 Games, suffered a 4-2 defeat to a low rated Brazilian Gustavo Tsuboi in a highly intense clash on Tuesday.
After the crashing out of the trio of Funke Oshonaike, Jide Omotayo and Offiong Edem from the table tennis events respectively as well as the early elimination of the country’s athletes from rowing, gymnastics, taekwondo and badminton events, all eyes were on Aruna, seeded among the top 15 players in the Tokyo Games and the highest rated African in the world, to lift Team Nigeria’s spirit for medals chase ahead of the athletics event kicking off on Friday.
But the 2016 Rio Olympics quarterfinalist bows out of the competition with a surprising 4-2 (15-13, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 7-11, 5-11) defeat to Brazilian. Despite that Quadri started the game on a bright note winning the first set 15-13, he lost in the latter sets as it ended 4-2 in favour of Tsuboi.
The first game was intense as Aruna managed to win 15-13, but the Brazilian pulled an impressive 9-11 win in the second to draw level 1-1.
Tsuboi went on to win the third game 6-11 before the Nigerian fought back to draw level winning 11-7 and it was two-apiece.
A rush of points from Aruna had him in the lead at 8-4 but Tsuboi came up with some surprises of his own before Aruna got 3 points down the stretch to close out the 4th game for 11-7. Unfortunately, it was the Brazilian who would account for the 4th game 11-7, the 5th game also came very swiftly. Down by 5 points and facing a possible early exit from the Olympics, Aruna was only able to muster 2 additional points which weren’t enough as Tsuboi ran away winning the match 4-2.
Following the shock elimination of the Team Nigeria captain, one of Nigeria’s star athletes and medal prospects, Ese Brume, urged Nigerians to keep praying for the team.
Brume, who could not grant an interview to LEADERSHIP Sports at the Tokyo Olympics village yesterday due to a rush to catch up with her training schedule, simply asked Nigerians to continue to support them with prayers. “I’m praying and hoping for God. Let’s keep praying,” She simply said.
Brume, who was Nigeria’s only athlete in a final event at the last Olympics in Rio, Brazil 2016, has proved her status as one of the best horizontal jumpers in the world. Her African record setting 7.17m leap at the end of May is the longest any long jumper has landed so far this year.